Battling #SadDeskLunch with Prepd

We’ve all been there. We know bringing lunch to work is the smart, healthy, and financially responsible thing to do. We want to bring delicious lunches to work, but then motivation is always low. We end up buying something or bringing whatever boring thing we could find in our fridge—wishing we could be better.

Enter: Prepd, a lunch box with modular containers and a corresponding app to help us be the lunch-bringer we always knew we could be.

We spoke with co-founder and GA Hong Kong alumni, Chris Place, a few days before his goal-busting Kickstarter which raised over $1M closed.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is on the Prepd team?

Team Prepd is me, Chris, and co-founder, Will. I’m an industrial designer by training, and I started out working in manufacturing. Working on that side of things, you’d design a product—and they’d make it—but you don’t actually get to make things for yourself. I really wanted to turn that skill set into something I could make for myself.

I grew up in the UK, but I moved to Hong Kong in 2010, where I worked with entrepreneurs who were making mobile accessories. I was able to work closer to the decision side of things, and I was a driving force behind seeing the realities of product development.

I started to move around and get experience in marketing and design, and I had this idea for a lunchbox. I kept thinking that you buy a lunchbox and you’re looking for a specific outcome or lifestyle change, but the product isn’t helping you make that change—it’s just a box. I wanted to go further with that idea. Why do people take lunches? How can you take a systems approach to thinking about why people bring lunches and how?

What brought you to GA? How did the course help you with your launch?

I took the Product Management course. I thought it could give me the framework to take my ideas to market. I had had previous ideas, so during the course, I was taking things I learned and feeding it back to my team.

I already had a background in product design, so the course helped me understand the marketing and creative storytelling side of things. How can I tie together my product with compelling marketing and bring my product to launch? Each week I was able to bring what I learned back to my team.

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What inspired the product? Was this purely a market need?

A lot of people had the same mentality of bringing lunches to work growing up. As adults, it’s sort of ingrained in us that we should be taking lunches to work, but then we end up not. I always wanted to bring lunches, but I’d usually give up. There was this gut feeling that something was wrong with the system. Here in Hong Kong, you can buy a lot of food for really cheap, but it’s not very good for you, and it’s not very sustainable. I wanted to try the paleo diet, and I knew the smart thing to do was to bring food to work. As I was doing that I learned that I wasn’t a very good cook, so not having a lot of recipes didn’t help.

I was inspired by the Sunday meal prep subreddit. There were all these things to help me achieve my goals, but none of them I wanted to use. I wanted to have something that I really enjoyed doing, and I wanted to make it an easier and more enjoyable experience.

How do you hope it fits into the greater food ecosystem?

We’re obviously trying to help people be more effective at bringing lunch to work, but we’re really hoping to work with a bunch of people to develop recipes that appeal to all types of lunch-bringers. We’re trying to take more of an outcome-based approach. Whether your goal is saving money on food, or packing healthier lunches, we want to push people to expand their skills or create an outlet.

We also hope to look beyond the typical meal prep world. We’re learning that there is a massive need for different dietary requirements, so we’re designing all of these meal plans differently, and for different skill levels, days of food you need, or food interests/requirements.

What are your goals for Prepd?

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We’re getting close to 20k lunch boxes sold [At time of conversation, their Kickstarter hadn’t closed yet.] That’s our number one goal: fulfilling orders. We’re also working on developing the app that works with the lunchbox. It will have recipes ideas and cater to different dietary needs, and that are specially designed to fit in the modular containers. Nothing else matters for the next few months.

After that, we want to have better integrations for the app, and different versions for different dietary requirements. We’re still trying to understand who our dominant market will be, but we’d love to get into kids boxes and incorporate growth and nutrition.

Did you ever expect it to get so big?

We never expected this to get this big. There have been other kick starters that were focused on kids and the most they ever raised was 100k. We thought ‘if we could raise even close to this, I will be excited.’ We never expected to come close to where we ended up.

What’s your favorite thing to bring for office lunch?

I’ve only recently just discovered avocados, so anything with avocados. I wish we could invite some sort of avocado-producing machine.

(Writer’s note: I asked about this. Apparently, growing up in London, there weren’t a lot of avocados, and they aren’t common in Singapore.)

Musings from the team at Hook & Blade Mag.